A local triathlete has just finished the second of five exhausting sporting events to raise funds for literacy projects in Cayman and Guatemala, and this weekend he tackles the next one.
Chris Bailey created for himself the 640 Challenge, a series of tough events to complete by the end of the year. The distance from Cayman to Guatemala is 640 miles, hence the name.
The funds he raises will help two programs: the LIFE program – Literacy Is For Everyone – based in Grand Cayman with the goal of supporting people of all ages to read and gain learning they would otherwise not get, and the Guatemala Literacy project.
Bailey completed the Chicago Marathon last week and hopes he has recovered enough for the next phase, the Miami Half-Ironman, on Sunday. It involves a swim of 1.2 miles, cycle of 56 miles and half-marathon run of 13.1 miles.
“I support two Guatemalan children through this project by paying for their schooling,” Bailey said.
“The letters they now write and hope for their future is heartwarming. Until you have seen developing world poverty up close and personal, it’s hard to imagine what these families go through. Everyone can make a difference.”
This challenge has helped him get much fitter and live a far healthier life.
“When I tipped the scale at over 300 pounds a year ago, my dreams of doing a marathon seemed impossible. There was no way within 12 months I would I be heading towards a start line,” Bailey said.
His wife Kym completed the 26.2-mile Chicago run too. The Windy City choice was mainly because people who had done it before said it was as an epic event. “They said the crowd will push you along, the city loves the marathon. I have to say, they were not wrong,” Chris said. Kym is an accomplished runner. She wanted to do a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon – which is around 3 hours, 45 minutes for her age group, an ambitious target for her first marathon.
“I had followed a training plan but it had to also include swimming and cycling in preparation for the upcoming 70.3 Ironman only two weeks after the marathon, plus a trip to Las Vegas has also got in the way,” Bailey said.
In Chicago, he “hit the wall” at about mile 18. His legs started seizing up and his quads felt like lead weights.
Kym texted when Chris was at mile 20, saying she had finished in 3:39, which inspired him to push harder, eventually crossing the line in 5:19.
“A flood of texts came in from family and friends, all very humbling and amazing to receive,” he said.
“Again, people can be so thoughtful. This meant so much to Kym and I, plus the charity.” After Miami, it’s back to Cayman for the Pedal to the Point, a cycle ride and race from the Turtle Farm to Rum Point.
Finally, the 37-year-old Englishman tackles the Cayman Islands half-marathon on Dec. 6 to complete his 640 miles.
To follow Bailey’s progress, go to www.facebook.com/640challenge. To donate, go to: www.razoo.com/story/640challenge.